Ended the night up ~$400 or so. I added a bunch of live betting hedges, which had the net impact of reducing gains. Overall was an OK night, but in the context of well over $12k in bets nothing to be too happy about. I was away from my desk and computer this card and made the mistake of over complicating the strategy, which led me to make some less than optimal sizing decisions in live betting. Lesson learnt.
Lost $820 Mein bets, lost $600 Krylov, lost $335 Saggo, lost $200 Holloway by decision, lost $190 Pettis, lost $50 on parlay and lost $100 Makdessi for total gross losses of $2,295. Won $110 Gastelum, won $199 Holloway and won $1,204 Cerrone TKO/KO for total gross wins of $1,513. Total net losses were $782.
Ended the night down ~$2,250 losing all five bets placed. I thought I was appropriately factoring in the lack of conviction by weighting <3% per fight, but that was clearly not enough. Last card I took favorites, this card I wanted to make a point to not make that a habit. I’m learning how to weigh trusting in the strategy vs. trusting in how I think fights will go, which is a dynamic I’m still figuring out.
A new experience for The Open Roll, ended the night up $476 dollars with winnings coming from not a single underdog. Since the pre-fight summary I added $50 on Johnson within distance that I lost, $10 on Hall by decision that paid out $60, $1,105 Maynard that was lost & $1,491 Hall that paid out $1,193.
I don’t expect this style of betting to continue, but as highlighted in the pre-fight summary this was a rare occasion where my understanding of the match-ups combined with the historical statistics told me to hold off betting the dogs en masse. Maybe it was luck, but I’m happy with the outcome.
Additions post the pre-fight summary include $100 Zhikui +115 (lost), $50 Herrera +117 (lost), $300 Brown +128 (won), $200 Kasuya +160 (lost), $100 Noke +120 (lost), $600 Akhmedov -113 (won), $1,317.56 Whittaker +125 (won) & $1,550 Brunson +101 (lost).
Overall ended the night up $2,421 on total bets placed of $6,514 (~37% ROI) & total potential downside of ~$2,266 (~107%).
Ended the card up $1,653. Stewart’s win was the largest gain, followed by Jotko, Antrigulov & Ferreira. Losses came from Alves, Ottow and Gamburyan. Including the 99 card I ended the night up $1,007 net.
Ended the card down $646. Only changes post pre-fight summary was addition of $470 on Volkhov at +130 (which worked out) and $268 on Mustafaev at +130 (which didn’t work out). I was right on the value thing with unpopular cards here & this card didn’t work well for the dog, which prompted me to run correlations of the strategy based on ppv / fox viewership to see if there’s a strong enough R2 to change things. Will let you know if that’s the case.
Overall I ended the night down ~$35. Changes after the pre-fight summary included addition of $550 on Eddie which I lost and taking the other side of $100 parlay Weidman + Thompson + Conor which worked out.
I made the mistake of outsizing my bet on Eddie, which is something I’m trying to get away from. I also clearly underestimated McGregor. Very impressive performance.
Ended the night down ~$189 on total bets placed of ~$2,740 or negative ~7% ROI. I added a bet on Soto when the line moved which helped, but prop bets on RDA / Ferguson, loss on Novelli (split decision) and loss on Arantes were main contributors to keeping me in the red. UFC 205 up in six days, which is shaping up to have a lot of potential. Stay tuned.
I lost $1,377 on Bisping / Hendo to end before 5 rounds, $132.5 on other prop bets on Bisping / Hendo, $400 on Doane, $300 on Omielanczuk and $5 on Belfort. I won $660 on Statsiak & $435 on Manuwa. Net losses were $1,119.5.
Prior to Open Roll it had been profitable making outsized bets on conviction calls. Since then it hasn’t gone as well. When you strike out enough times swinging for the fences, sometimes you need to go back to trying to hit singles and focus on just getting on base. I’m now looking to make less outsized calls on my weightings, and let the strategy, which has worked out well, take a more prominent roll in my P/L card to card.
I don’t know what else to say besides that it was a bad night of betting. Since starting The Open Roll I’ve shared my experience & views on 12 separate cards betting over $42,000. UFC FN 94 was the first time I’d lost every bet I placed on a card – losses amounted to $806, which isn’t the worst (~13% of the bank roll) in the context of the volatility I’m expecting, but it’s disappointing for other reasons. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I made mistakes I’d made in the past, which should never happen. Also, despite losing every bet, 8 of the 9 fights (~89%) the fighter I gave over 50% probability to ended up winning, making me further question my strategy.
Total wagers placed were ~$1,095. The only change post the pre-fight summary was an additional $120 on Gall at -400. I ended up losing $517 on the night, ~47% of bets placed and roughly ~7% of pre-card bankroll. Only two bets to payout were Bethe and Gall. Just one underdog on the entire card won. It’s worth noting, every card for the past six a simple underdog strategy has lost money, on average ~44% per card & ~262% in aggregate. It’s been tough, with my own bankroll (which I count based on net cumulative winnings) shrinking ~$7k or approximately in half over the same period… times like these force a guy to go back to the drawing board and rethink some core assumptions.
For a bit of background, I bet almost exclusively on underdogs. I do this because that’s what’s made the most money historically – I’m not interested in being right & high accuracy alone (like so many betting sites trying to sell you subscriptions are), I’m interested in being right relative to the odds & managing risk accordingly. This is how you make money over time. UFC underdog strategy on my math shows a ~2.6% edge over the past ~850 UFC fights, while more selective UFC underdog strategies have generated well over ~5% edge the past couple years betting over half of the total fights available. I believe this has been the case because consensus perception of how a bout should play out is often wrong – fighters are often inconsistent for unpredictable reasons, the margin between winning & losing is often much tighter than the odds imply, lines can reflect behavioural biases more than they reflect fundamental dynamics, judges & refs are inconsistent & biased, perception of how a fight should go is often rooted from biased & uneducated sources and the list goes on. This is all great and it’s cool betting on underdogs has worked in the past, but this recent losing streak is over a large sample and there’s some fundamental shifts taking place in concert which can’t be ignored… leads me to think betting on the underdog will not work as well in the future as it has in the past.
Some fundamental things are changing MMA betting making lines more efficiently priced & ultimately making it more difficult for an underdog strategy to be profitable – there are more educated eyes & dollars in the game today. Whether it’s UFC Fight Pass, Dan Hardy, Jack Slack or the countless other opinions available on potential fight outcomes via podcast or websites, it’s clearly much easier & quicker to understand key components of a match-up now than it has ever been. I also have reason to believe professional gamblers in general have turned more attention to MMA post some high-profile underdog wins (e.g. Diaz / McGregor 1, Holmes / Rousey), so the nature of the average bettor has also become more sophisticated. More bettors, smarter bettors and all with greater resources…
These dynamics can be seen in the prices. For example, at UFC 183 January 2015 the trailing 50-fight average underdog odds were over +290, while trailing 50-fight odds since Ultimate Fighter 23 July 2016 has been around +190, showing consistent trend for lower potential payouts over time. The UFC is probably doing a better job of making match-ups, but I also think bettors have gotten better at pricing fights. More concerning, today’s trailing 50-fight average underdog winning percentage & edge is at the lowest point it’s ever been since my database goes back (which is November 2014).
So what does this mean for the strategy and what do I need to change to adjust for this reality?
I still think mispricing will exist, I just think it will be less common and potentially shorter lived than in the past. This means I’m going to need to be more selective – more than ever I need to stick to where I have good reason to believe I have a competitive advantage, understand the risk, understand the other side of the bet & why they’re likely wrong and see a clear margin of safety to the Kelly Criterion. The second thing that comes to mind is I’ll potentially need to be more open to different betting return profiles. For example, I have a representative sample that shows I’ve picked the winner ~68% of the time (on over half the fights per card over the period, so I’m not cherry picking; also, this has shown an edge to the odds, which is ultimately what matters), which opens some doors to new strategies potentially…
This new landscape is going to be tough, and it may not be worth my time to continue… I love MMA & watching fights, but the opportunity cost to doing this at this level is real… I’ll give it to Christmas, then decide whether it’s worth continuing.
Ended the night down $1,024 (~10% of the bank roll) on total bets placed of $1,478. Of the fights I picked would likely win in the pre-line summary 6 of 8 went the right way (75%), but unfortunately none of the winners once odds were posted came in as dogs (just two or three dogs of the 11 won on the card) and the props I placed didn’t go my way, although it was close.
- Lost $430 Bader decision at +188, $120 Latifi R1 at +600 & $50 Latifi within distance at +300. Bader barely made it out of the first after getting rocked & won in the second kicking / kneeing Latifi in the head as he came in for a takedown. Fortunate timing giving Bader his first finish in his past eight fights.
- Lost $320 Barnett vs. Arlovski within 1.5 rounds at +125 & $100 Barnett KO/TKO at +330. Both guys were very close to getting finished in the first 20 seconds (three separate shot to wobbly knees in 20 seconds!).
- Lost $100 Issa at +133 & won $34 Lapilus decision at +300. Lapilus decision winnings offset my Issa bet so this was a wash.
- Won $75 Gust by decision at +199 & lost $25 Blach within distance at +1015. Net winnings on Gust decision was $125.
- Lost $90 Colombo vs. Danaho under 1.5 rounds at +130.
- Won on $49 Hein decision at -110 & lost on $40 Bang within distance at +352. Bets washed.
- Lost $25 Dalby at -125 & lost $20 Sobotta sub at +1025.
Away from my computer so another abbreviated summary. Overall, I ended up $957.5 (67% ROI; 56% ROI including the free-play). I don’t read too much into any one cards result, but the outcome was favorable considering only three underdogs won. For more details on the bets:
- $240 on Maia sub at +485 paid out $1,165 gross, net of hedges $845.
- $350 on Miller at +125 paid out $437.5.
- $300 free play on Pettis at -215 paid out $140 gross, net of Oliveira sub hedge $105.
- $10 on Miller vs. Lauzon FOTN at +400 paid out $40 gross, net of Bochniak vs. Barzola FOTN bet is $30.
- Lost $350 on Barzola getting robbed by the judges.
- Lost $100 on Rawlings getting slept by PVZ out of no where deciding she was part ninja.
- Lost $10 on Alvey vs. Casey lasting no more than 1.5 rounds. Alvey got the KO at the end of R2.
I said in the pre-fight summary my updated strategy would make writing these posts more difficult at times, and I was right about that much sooner than I had hoped… Kelly Criterion is meant to maximize returns, not minimize volatility.
I ended the night down $3,303 (~28% of pre-card portfolio size) on total wagers of $4,898 (negative ~67% return) vs. blind underdog betting strategy of negative ~32% (underperformed ~35%). Three underdogs came through with wins, only one of which (Larkin) I had some exposure. The only change I made post the pre-fight summary update was I added ~$66 on Larkin at +120.
My biggest lessons / mistakes I’m seeing post the card include: i) I should have not made a ten unit bet on someone I gave ~30% chance of winning to (Homasi) without seeing value on hedging options that could bring total odds closer to 50%; ii) when KO is the most likely outcome, I need to adjust the odds I give to speed (e.g. Johnson, Garbrandt, Larkin etc.) relative to a vet with hours of tape / tendencies readily available (e.g. Teixeira, Mizugaki etc.). The call was right & it was the dominant theme of the card as anticipated, but I didn’t make any money off of it (although I didn’t lose much either), despite certain odds providing the opportunity to do so under the underdog strategy; iii) just because someone is a BJJ black belt, it doesn’t mean they make ‘black belt’ decisions (e.g. Uda giving up his back the way he did). Unless it’s a black belt vs. blue belt, I need to understand someone’s game based on history / watching tape, not by taking a title & assuming it means something… which probably means I need to be more selective & analyze less fights; iv) Being totally honest, I feel I am stretching for returns in areas when they may not be there. The most important change I’ve decided to make now is to first decide on who I think will win, how it might play out, and a sense on probabilities before I ever look at the line… I’m also looking to pass on having a view more often, trying to get better at focusing my time where I believe I can best understand the situation & have an edge. Looking back at all my mistakes, especially the ones I’ve shown a tendency to repeat, I think this will be a very positive change.
For context, over the past 70 UFC cards the worst stretch an underdog betting strategy has had is four cards of negative returns FN 86, Fox 19, UFC 197 & FN 87 down +140% on bets placed (if you had put equal weighting on every underdog) vs. current three card negative run down ~120% for the strategy (negative ~74% if you’d just bet +100-200). For reference, over the past 70 cards & ~796 fights if you had put equal bet on every underdog it would have generated ~9.7% weighted average return (~52% of the cards would have been profitable), and implying on ~2 unit weighting per fight a ~197% return, ~4 unit weighting per fight a ~306% return, ~6 unit weighting per fight a ~159% return and ~8 unit weighting per fight a negative ~36% return.
I ended the night down $2,236 (~15% of pre-card portfolio size) on total wagers of $5,597 (negative ~40% return) vs. blind underdog betting strategy of negative ~83% (outperformed ~43%). Only one underdog won on a card that included 12 bouts. The only change from the pre-fight summary was I added $500 hedge on McGee at -140.
Of the last 69 UFC cards (that’s just how far my database goes back) if you had just bet the underdog, last nights card was the worst result experienced.
Since July 7 2016, The Open Roll has made ~$28,125 in total bets (~$32,025 including UFC FN 91) on ~57 bouts (~61 including UFC FN 91), underwater ~$3,677 or ~13.1% (underwater ~$854 or ~2.7% including UFC FN 91) overall.
I ended the night down $656 (<5% of pre-fight portfolio size) on total wagers of $2,609 (negative ~25% return on the night). If I had just bet the same amount on every underdog using closing odds I would have been down ~5% (I underperformed this strategy ~20%). For reference, comparing The Open Roll’s returns vs. simple underdog betting for Fight Night 90 was 13% vs. -16% (29% outperformance), Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale 15% vs. -24% (39% outperformance), UFC 200 20% vs. 14% (6% outperformance) and Fox 20 -59% vs. 19% (78% underperformance). On average I’m up ~6% overall (excluding ~72% gain on UFC Fight Night 91).
Rule number one is to not lose money and this is the second card where I’ve underperformed a simple underdog betting strategy. It never feels good losing money or to do worse than a formula, but it’s going to happen from time to time. The questions for me, win or lose, really is what did I learn from the card, where can I get better and did the night provide reason to believe something I’m doing isn’t working or should be replaced. On these criteria, I’m generally pleased… For more details on bets placed see below:
- $649 on Velickovic at +195 – the fight ended in a draw so I got my money back. Thought there was value on this line and I think the fight showed this.
- $500 on Grabowski at +115 – lost $500 on Hamilton’s KO win. Heavyweight is a b—-. Hamilton landed first…
- $400 on Herman at +197.5, hedged Krylov R1 win $40 at +175 – lost $440 on Krylov’s R2 win. Herman survived R1, landed too but got dropped with a high left leg kick to the head early R2, before I was hoping / believing he was going to turn the grind up and ultimately get the win… I’m sold, Krylov made my list of Light Heavyweights I’m biased to avoid betting against all together.
- $200 on Pearson at +205 – lost $200 on Masvidal’s win. Going in I thought & said everything told us Masvidal should win this, but I still put money on it because I liked the line. This was a bad decision.
- $200 on Serrano at -105 – Lost $200 on Benoit’s decision win. Serrano out hit Benoit every single round also landing 5 takedowns overall vs. Benoit at zero. Serrano got robbed.
- $200 on Rivera at +140 – Lost $200 on Perez’s decision win. Even though Rivera lost, I think this bet was a decent one.
- $200 on Ellenberger at +232, $10 R1 Ellenberger at +1100 – won $574 on Ellenberger’s R1 win. Had heard on Frank Mir’s podcast Brown say he got a concussion last year, and re-watched the Thompson fight… This was a great line…
- $200 on Kowalkiewicz at +160 – won $320 on Kowalkiewicz’s win. Despite poor head movement, she took it. When she fights Joanna the line will have to be great to justify getting involved on Kowalkiewicz…
- $10 on Lawler vs. Woodley decision at +650 – lost $10 on R1 KO. I wanted to take Woodley outright in this one but it felt like the line was fairly priced.
Of the $4,709 in wagers listed on the pre-fight summary, I ended down $2,497 net on the night. I added a bet on Moontasri, hedged some of the Melendez bet using round betting on Barboza, and hedged some of my Knight bet on Alers. All of these last minute bets were losers. Adding on these losses I ended the night down almost $3,130 net.
What’s most disappointing is that five of the 11 fights were won by the underdog, yet I still ended down almost 60%, mostly because my bets on Pepey & Melendez were outsized and I got way too cute on round betting. I should know better to bet the %’s I did on how a fight might finish instead of outright on a fighter (outside of a hedging strategy), and there’s no excuse for me to have made these mistakes.
On the losses from the outsized bets on Melendez ($2,000) & Pepey ($1,000), I’m not overly concerned as of now because I have no good reason to think this strategy won’t work over time to maximize returns. My betting history pre-dating this blog has been much better than otherwise by making large bets when I had conviction, and the odds I’ve given fights on Kelly over time have shown to be conservative (the sample is large enough I think it’s representative), so I am not convinced I’m making a mistake by pursuing this strategy for now. That said, it does make things more volatile, and will be something I’ll continue to monitor and analyze continually. Related to this subject, if anything I made obvious mistakes on, it was not factoring enough information into my conviction bets & even making them too early before fight night. For example, Melendez not on PED’s was something I should have weighed more heavily than I did, and perhaps I would have not bet the same size if I had really thought about it more.
This is the first of four cards (five unofficially) on The Open Roll where I’ve ended down, and it won’t be the last. Learn and drive on. Next up UFC 201 in seven days.
Bad news is I wasn’t able to get all the fight analysis posted or final bet weightings before the card started. Good news is of the two fights I posted picks / analysis for I was right on both! So maybe it all worked out for the better in the end?!?
I will not include this card’s results when mentioning my trackrecord on the site go-forward (it would make me look better & there is a case to include the two names I posted analysis / weightings for, but I think it would be debatable if I did so let’s err on the side of caution), but I thought some might want to know where I ended up on the card anyways. Net winnings totalled ~$2,820 on total bets placed of ~$3,900 (~72%). $1,300 on Yahya paid off at +100, $1,000 on McDonald at +155 was lost, $800 on Omielanczuk paid off at +167 and $800 on Nakamura paid off at +155.
Looking back at the card asking what I might do different next time, biggest mistake was not placing simple bets I’d had already done work on (like the Nicholson fight). Outside of that I felt really lucky to win the Omielanczuk bout – I like betting against +40 year old fighters back after a long hiatus who get the nestalgic premium, but even after that was all factored in Omielanczuk is mediocre enough the line was probably close to fair. McDonald was another one I got nostalgic on, and should have weighed his sub-par first round stand-up / chin in his last fight more heavlily than I did. I still think he was worth some at +155, just probably not $1,000 against a dude with the handle “hands of stone”.
Anyways, there it is folks. We have a card this weekend so you’ll hear back from me shortly.
Saturday morning I had a softball tournament commitment and the afternoon an unanticipated need to call the exterminators at my place (don’t ask), so my apologies for not posting my bets and all the fight analysis heading into the card. Overall, I ended the card up ~$820 on bets placed of ~$4,020 (~20%) including hedges. Below are the bets in more detail:
- $1,000 on Edgar at +100 & $50 total on R4 & R5 finish for Edgar – lost $1,050 on Aldo’s win.
- $695 on Gastelum at +175 ($145) & -115 ($550), hedged $242 on Hendricks at -165 – won $481 net on Kelvin’s win.
- $600 on Nunes at +225 – won $1,350 on Nunes’ win.
- $250 on Browne at +224, hedged $40 on Valesquez R1 at +200 – lost $170 net on Cain’s win.
- $250 on Silva/Cormier over 2.5 rounds at +165, with $50 on Silva to finish the fight at +500 – won $363 net on the fight going past 2.5 rounds.
- $230 on Lesnar at +150, hedged with $292 on Hunt at -125 – won $53 net on Brock’s win.
- $100 on Assuncao at +299 – lost $100 on TJ’s win.
- $100 on Santos at +220 – lost $100 on Mousasi’s win.
- $100 on Zingano at -172 – lost $100 on Pena’s win.
- $50 on Miller by decision at +300 – lost $50 on Miller’s win.
- $20 on Lauzon R1 at +700 – won horseshoe $140 on Lauzon’s win.
This weekend worked out a bit better than expected on actual vs. expected returns for the fights overall (actual return $2,255 vs. odds implied return <$1,700), but I didn’t bet enough (only ~$14,700 bet over the weekend’s ~34 fights). The most obvious area for improvement I think is setting clearer criteria for my strategy and portfolio allocation decisions. This is what I’ve been thinking about this morning. I believe I’ve figured out a better way. More to come on this later.
Ended the card up an uneventful $197 on bets placed $1,320 (~15%). Below are the bets in more detail:
- $195 on Lee at +130 – won $253 on Lee’s win.
- $145 on Gaudelha at +160 – lost $145 on Joanna’s win.
- $130 on Pearson at +290 & $100 on Pearson to finish at +700 – lost $230 on Brooks’ win.
- $120 on Taveres at +175 – lost $120 on Choi’s win.
- $120 on Bruno at +140 – lost $120 on Maynard’s win.
- $370 on Nicolau at +122 – won $452 on Nicolau’s win. After winning prior two fights I increased weighting on my highest conviction bet, which was this one.
- $120 on Ferreira at +105 – won $126 on Ferreira’s win.
- $20 on Zafir at +275 – lost $20 on Jingliang’s win.
Didn’t have much conviction or time, so I didn’t place many bets of size. That said, overall it was still a relatively favourable result, so I’ll sleep well tonight.
Ended the night up $1,241, which was largely due to Alvarez and a good result in my books considering I made some fairly silly mistakes. For more details on the bets:
- $1,300 on Alvarez at +375, with $3,000 on Dos Anjos at -360 – won $1,875 on Alvarez’s win.
- $650 on Herrera at +360, with $80 on Luque R1 at +200, $50 on Luque R2 at +350 & $20 on Luque R3 at +900 – lost $544 on Luque win.
- $520 on Lopes at +214 – lost $520 on Birchak win.
- $500 on Sajewski at +210, with $940 on Burns at -188 – ended flat on Sajewski’s loss.
- $403 on Doane at +192, with $515 on Munhoz at -188 – lost $129 on Munhoz win.
- $358 on Lewis at +130 – won $465 on Lewis’ win.
- $327 on Mina at +107 – won $350 on Mina’s win.
- $260 on Jouban at +115, with $130 on Muhammad at +120 – won $169 on Jouban’s win.
- $195 on Clarke at +260 – lost $195 on Duffy’s win.
- $130 on Baghdad at +155 – lost $130 on Makdessi’s win.
- $100 on Sanders at +150 – lost $100 on Arante’s win.
Overall, it turned out better than it should have. I was comfortable with most of the losses, but Clarke & Luque stuck out as my biggest mistakes. I didn’t do enough work on both, and shouldn’t have weighted my bets so high on underfollowed fights (more sharp’s likely setting the line than not) I didn’t have high conviction they could win. I also hedged too much on Alvarez too soon. Hindsight is 20/20, but Alvarez was my best idea coming in so this takeaway isn’t just influenced by the result. I also should have spent more time looking at wagers in aggregate and concentrated more in my best ideas. Lessons learnt I hope. Now off to the next card!